Title: Shadow Hunter
Author: Kait Ballenger
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Execution Underground (Book .5)
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
ISBN-10: 0373778252 (Harlequin)
ISBN-13: 978-0373778256 (Harlequin)
Reviewed by: Steph
Vampire hunter Damon Brock’s first assignment with the Execution Underground is Rochester, New York. But he isn’t the only hunter in town gunning for vamp blood. Tiffany Solow is ruthless when it comes to slaying the monsters that destroyed her family—and she works solo. But when she meets the mysterious hunter who wants more than just her turf, the line between good and evil blurs as they must decide between their lifelong beliefs…and their newfound desires.
Quick & Dirty: There’s a vampire spreading a virus that can turn people into zombies. Vampire hunter Damon Brock teams up with his best friend’s baby sister in order to find out who’s behind the virus. Will they be able to find him in time?
Opening Sentence: Damon Brock clutched the neck of the guard and twisted.
When I reviewed the first book of the Execution Underground series (review can be found here), I noted that there were hints of a good book hidden among parts of the story that I didn’t really like. Sadly, the same can be said for this prequel; I liked parts of the story, but was ultimately left feeling frustrated that it didn’t quite meet its potential.
Damon Brock is looking for revenge. Three months ago, his best friend Mark was killed during a mission. Mark was injured, and following protocol, Damon ran after the vampire target rather than staying with his friend until help could arrive. When he returned, Mark was dead. Now Damon will stop at nothing to see the master vampire of Rochester dead.
Tiffany Solow is still mourning the loss of her brother. Grief stricken and angry, she is determined to kill the vampire responsible for his death. She and Damon meet at a vampire club, and sparks fly. They agree to work together to avenge Mark’s death. Meanwhile, they discover a new danger threatening Rochester: a virus spread by vampires that can turn their victims into zombies. Will they be able to figure out how to stop the spread of the virus? Will they ever be able to kill the vampire responsible for Mark’s death?
I had problems connecting to both Tiffany and Damon. Their characters both seemed to lack depth, and I just couldn’t bring myself to really care about either of them. I think a large part of this problem is that they have a history the reader doesn’t get to see for themselves. We’re told that Damon and Tiffany wrote each other letters constantly prior to Mark’s death and were basically in love before they ever met in person. I think if the book had started at the point where they began writing letters to each other, the reader would be better able to see the immediate connection between Tiffany and Damon and better able to understand what exactly was lost with Mark’s death.
The feminist in me also had a problem with the fact that the Execution Underground is male only, as if women can’t be supernatural hunters. I’m not saying there was an underlying sexism throughout the whole book; there certainly wasn’t. But occasionally, it did feel as if Damon was being condescending to Tiffany because she was a woman, and that was a big turn off for me.
While I did figure out ahead of time what was going on, I still enjoyed the overall plot. I think the idea of a vampire-spread zombie virus is very original, and I hope it gets revisited in future Execution Underground novels.
Overall, while I liked the idea behind the plot, I was largely disappointed by this book. I’m still willing to give book 2 a try though because the main character there is the one character I’ve connected to so far, so I’m hoping his book will be more enjoyable for me.
“What about the other humans in there? Isn’t it your job to keep them safe too?”
He gritted his teeth. She’d hit him right where it hurt, but he would never let her know that. “I can’t save everyone.”
She crossed her arms over her chest. “So you save the one person in the entire building who needs the least amount of saving?” He didn’t respond. She huffed. “That makes total sense.”
He shot her an icy stare. “That sort of attitude is exactly why you need saving. You’re not invincible.”
She scoffed. “Neither are you.” She yanked up the sleeve of his leather coat. “See, I jabbed you right…”
Her voice trailed off as she ran her fingers over his skin.
Electricity shot through his limbs. One small caress and she could bring him to his knees. He clenched his teeth. Everything in him fought against that knowledge. He couldn’t grant her power over him.
She stared at his forearm. The wounds had already begun to heal. The only remaining signs were several pink crescent-shaped scars, which at this rate would soon disappear.
Her eyes widened. “What are you?”
The Execution Underground:
2. Immortal Hunter (April 29, 2014)
FTC Advisory: Harlequin Books provided me with a copy of Shadow Hunter. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.